Unusually configured in three loops of six holes, the Cliffs at Keowee Springs golf course is a Tom Fazio design extending to 7,100 yards from the back tees. It’s set within one of seven private luxury residential mountain and lake club communities in the Blue Ridge Mountains, with membership at this location allowing access to the other six 18-hole layouts.
Featuring 007 bent grass greens, TifEagle bermuda tees, and 419 bermuda fairways and rough, this 18-hole layout can play as short as 4,600 yards or as long as 7,200 yards (with a tough slope rating of 142). Complementing the course, there’s a state of the art 5-green practice facility.
The Keowee Springs course was the 24th that architect Tom Fazio had designed in South Carolina when it opened for play in 2008 – he also laid out the Cliffs at Keowee Vineyards nine years earlier – but since then he’s not added a single layout to his Palmetto State portfolio.
The Cliffs development, which started out in 1991 and grew rapidly in its first two decades of operation, faltered when founder Jim Anthony went bankrupt and the properties were sold in 2012 to Florida-based Arendale Holdings. Seven years later, the Cliffs communities were acquired by South Street partners, a North Carolina private equity real estate investment firm.
Interesting course, one of the many Cliff branded courses in NC and SC. If you have a tee time double check which course. I thought I was supposed to play the Falls today. Regardless, i soldiered on.
The first hole is welcoming, a short to middle par 4 that is wide open and downhill. If the first hole is downhill , usually the next is uphill. The fairway bunkers are closer than they appear. The 3rd hole is non-memorable par 3. One nice feature at the CLiffs is they have yardage markers on all the tee markers with that days yardage. Of course, that eliminates one of excuses. Number 4 is a long uphill par four, make sure you take an extra club on this one. The 5th is a dogleg right with a canyon on the elbow, that is NG. Conversely, if you play to conservatively you will drive through the fairway and leave yourself with a lousy sidehill lie. I really liked the par 5 6th. I know i am transparent. Big hitters can get there in 2 but for the rest of us mortals aim way left on your second shot and estimate your preferred wedge in. The green is angle right to left and will receive the ball nicely and you (should) take the bunkers out of play, . I also liked the par 5 8th, other than it being the number one handicap hole. This one is uphill with a tricky green, front pin is a killer. The front side ends with a par 3. Aim right, everything is contoured to the left.
The back nine starts with a moderate S shape par 5. Do not hit your 2nd or 3rd shot right. You will be in a canyon, hollow, ravine, pick whatever you want to call it. I just know it as trouble. The 11th is a tough long uphill par 3 with a 3 tiered green. Par is a good score. The 12th is a straight reachable par 5. However the green is crested and protected by a BAB.
The par 5 14th is also reachable in two, slightly downhill and is the easiest par 5. The par 3 15 plays longer than the yardage and with the bunkers in front you do not want to be short. The long par 4 16th, while rated the number 2 handicap hole, i think is by far the toughest, Dogleg left with BABs on both the inside and outside elbow. The green is elevated and protected with more sand. The 18th is a tough finishing hole. Long and uphill with a pesky fairway bunker right and then a few more greenside.
Overall, a very pleasant and enjoyable track